In today's (26 February 2007) meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Economic Services, the Director of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) explained the following new measures in respect of the tropical cyclone warning system (TCWS) to be introduced in the tropical cyclone season in 2007:
(a) expand the reference for the issue of No.3 and No.8 signals to a network of eight anemometers near sea level covering the whole of Hong Kong;
(b) issue No.3 or No.8 signal (as the case may be) when half or more anemometers in the reference network register or are expected to register strong winds or gale/storm force winds and the wind condition is likely to persist;
(c) enhance dissemination of regional wind information to address the inherent limitation of a single-numbered tropical cyclone signal through the following means:
(i) the HKO to highlight in media broadcast of its tropical cyclone bulletins those areas with wind speeds significantly higher than the general wind condition of Hong Kong;
(ii) the HKO to promote understanding of the modified TCWS and the uneven wind distribution during tropical cyclones, and to encourage the public to make good use of the full range of weather information on the HKO website and its Dial-a-Weather system; and
(iii) the Education and Manpower Bureau and the Labour Department to help reinforce the message in their existing guidelines that schools, parents and employers should take a flexible approach in dealing with cases of absence from or being late for school and work due to inclement weather condition in individual localities (such as landslips, rainstorms and high winds).
(d) issue an advisory in tropical cyclone bulletins that the traveling public check with airlines before departing for the airport when weather conditions likely to cause significant disruptions to flight operations are expected.
In arriving at these new measures, the HKO formed an Academic Advisory Committee comprising scholars and experts as well as reached out to different sectors of the community to consult their views. In today's meeting of the LegCo Panel on Economic Services, the Director of the HKO stressed that the changes only involved revising the technical reference the HKO would use in deciding on the issue of tropical cyclone warning signals and there would be no need for changes to the tropical cyclone-related response plans by the public as well as the Government and the private sector.
The HKO will continue to adopt an open mind to listen to the public. At the end of the tropical cyclone season, the HKO will carefully assess the effectiveness of the modifications. If necessary, the HKO will make further improvement to the tropical cyclone warning services in the light of practical experience and comments received.
Details on the conclusion of the TCWS review and the new measures for 2007 are available in a report at the HKO web site (http://www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/currwx/tc_review_rpt.pdf). The public may also obtain a copy of the report in person from the HKO Resource Centre at 23/F Miramar Tower, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. The report may also be obtained by mail by sending to the HKO Resource Centre a self addressed A4-size envelop with $ 2.20 postage and marked with "Tropical Cyclone Warning System".